Wednesday: Rat Saw God [Album Review]

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Rat Saw God
Dead Oceans [2023]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Asheville, North Carolina band Wednesday jumped right up to the top of the indie scene with their guitar fueled sophomore record Twin Plagues in 2021. The album was a breath of fresh air with vocalist Karly Hartzman taking a commanding front and center role while it also put a spotlight on guitarist MJ Lenderman, which released the fantastic solo record, Boat Songs last year. Given their building success and fanbase, plus a switch to the bigger Dead Oceans label, the release of their third LP, Rat Saw God, had a heightened anticipation that I am sure also put lots of pressure on Wednesday to deliver. After one spin of Rat Saw God, you would have never believed any of those outside constraints as Wednesday comes off confident, calm, cool, and collected while releasing their best record to date!

From the opening track “Hot Rotten Grass Smell,” Wednesday takes off with a full force wall of noise assault as Hartzman tries to sing over the distorted cranking guitars. The track is only 1:35 long but it packs a solid opening punch and plays longer. The group then follows it up with the over 8-minute “Bull Believer,” which expands on their muscular approach. This time Harzman’s vocals lead you into the cranking amps. The band then skillfully slows things down a little over midway before ending in musical chaos. It’s a fantastic finish and at just ten minutes into Rat Saw God, you immediately know the rest of the album will follow suit. Between song structures that have a very 90’s alt nation vibe to them with still a touch of shoegaze, Wednesday deliver some real lyrics that describe a life with gritty details. On the catchy “Bath County” there is this great verse that finishes with Harzman screaming the last line. “Hittem with a dose of Narcan / Sat right up in the leaned back seat of his / Two door sedan / On the way home, play Drive-By Truckеrs songs real loud / You’ll be my baby ’til my body’s in the ground.” Another highlight on the record is “Chosen To Deserve,” which she describes some of her younger years adventures when singing “I used to drink ’til I threw up on weeknights at my parents house / My friends all took Benadryl ’til they could see shit / Crawlin’ up the walls” with a chorus that is “I’m the girl that you were chosen to deserve.” It is a great song and represents how Wednesday’s full self disclosure makes their songs real and the band that much more relatable.

Several other key components on this album help take it to a higher level. One standout piece of course is the excellent guitar playing of MJ Lenderman which consistently plays back n’ forth with Harzman’s vocals. You also will hear the pedal steel of Xandy Chelmis sprinkled throughout several songs that really grounds the record and gives it a true modern day flare. Lastly, the album was produced by Alex Farrar (Angel Olsen, Indigo De Souza, Archers Of Loaf), which not only knows the North Carolina creative scene but he has been building a solid resume of artists that he has worked with. That experience shines on the production for Rat Saw God, as each exploding piece roars out of your speakers while never losing the emotion of the songs or the singer! Wednesday have produced one of the best indie rock records of the year and its April. This album will only get more infectious each time you hear it and has lifted Wednesday to a top tier level on the indie scene!

“Bull Believer” / “Chosen To Deserve” / “Bath County”

Hop Along / Smashing Pumpkins / Momma

Twin Plagues (2021)

Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp | Dead Oceans

Thomas Wilde

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